Florida is one of the states currently experiencing an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases as the state begins to reopen. During his daily briefing yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that he may soon be issuing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any travelers coming to the Empire State from Florida, presumably to stave off another outbreak in the Big Apple. But wait… wouldn’t that amount to something approaching a “travel ban” on Floridians? I’m almost positive that somebody once told me that travel bans are bad. (CNBC)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that he’s considering imposing a quarantine on travelers arriving to New York from states like Florida where coronavirus cases have spiked.
“I haven’t made a decision yet, but I have had experts advise me of that. It is a real concern,” Cuomo said when asked about whether he’d consider imposing some sort of quarantine measure or taking health precautions at airports where travel has increased.
“It could happen, and it’s something I’m considering,” he said.
It’s not hard to understand how Cuomo might lean toward a reflexive move to try to shut down any new cases coming in from the Sunshine State. He’s essentially locked his governorship and political legacy to his handling of the pandemic outbreak in New York. And after his disastrous decisions regarding nursing homes arguably made the situation far worse rather than better, that legacy isn’t looking very good at the moment. Another massive surge in the city will only serve to further sink him in the history books.
But with that said, an executive order along those lines would probably turn out to be rather toothless. First of all, how does he plan to identify everyone coming from Florida and force them into quarantine? Not everyone flying in arrives at one of the three major airports in New York City. A lot of people come in from Newark and Cuomo has no authority there. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the number of people who drive and may have made multiple stops along the way.
Even if he could somehow generate a daily list of new arrivals from Florida, who is going to be checking up on them to make sure they’re staying in quarantine? In case he hasn’t noticed, the NYPD sort of has their hands full these days, what with all of the rioting and whatnot taking place in the streets. (Sorry… I meant to say “peaceful protesting.”) We’re talking about a massive number of people and that suspect population would be in flux every day. The Governor could ask people to self-quarantine upon arrival from Florida, but that’s about it. And when you look at the number of folks who were out there in the streets every night after a curfew order was in place, you get the idea that New Yorkers aren’t so great at following either orders or suggestions.
The only other angle I see in this story is the possibility that there might be some sort of tit-for-tat going on here. Back when New York City was in the grips of its massive surge in cases, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued a similar order for New Yorkers to self-quarantine for two weeks. That reportedly had Cuomo a bit hot under the collar. The same was true when the Governor of Rhode Island was “hunting down” New Yorkers trying to flee the outbreak to her state. Now that the victim count in New York is finally leveling out near a minimum, perhaps Cuomo thinks that turnabout might be fair play?
In any event, such an order is impractical in the extreme. If Andrew Cuomo goes through with this, it will be an obvious bit of window dressing intended to show that he’s still on top of things while not really accomplishing much of substance.